Construction Concerns

Hello to you all. Today as I write I pray you are well, enjoying the day God has given us. I know we feel down here that each day in its entirety is truly a gift from God…moment after moment in need of processing, cherishing, and savouring.

Today was our first work day. And we left the Provadenic this morning ready to work. We were all amped to go to that house and get our hands dirty. To sweat, to get tired, to get so hot that it felt like our ears were burning off…and to love every second of it. The team was keen to jump in and help out wherever and whenever they could.

But, as the team is learning is so prominent in Nicaragua, plans have changed. As you will be able to see in the pictures we post, the house is far more progressed than we had imagined. To provide some history for you, every year when Corwin starts a housing project in Veracruz, there is a contractor and a team of carpenters hired to start construction on the house before hand. Though we are hands to help do work, obviously our own knowledge of house-building is not enough that we can conquer a project like this on our own. It is actually a wonderful privilege to be able to provide work for and work alongside the Nicaraguans who are also involved in our endevours. So, because of our preemptive construction, we usually arrive to a house that is already underway. There are usually a few bricks laid for the base of the walls and the outline of the floor is already poured, as well as some rebar put in place for structure. It is a good place for us to walk into because, in that case, there is much cement to be mixed, rebar structures to be built and secured, and edges of walls to chip and smooth. And, of course, a really big hole to be dug in the backyard for a bathroom. In essence, we should have enough work to keep us busy, at least in the ‘hurry up and wait’ of Nicaraguan culture.

But, this year, this is not necessarily the case. And, in correspondence, we are each finding our faith “under construction” as well.

Richard and Shirley, the family we get to spend time with while we are down here as our contractor and our cook, have a special connection to the home we are building. For them, it is also a matter of the heart. Once we had heard the unfortunate news that the man and his family who we had anticipated building the house for did not have the papers to his own land (meaning he did not own it), we had looked to Shirley and Richard for assistance in finding another family for the project. Fervently, Richard and Shirley beseeched us to build a house for the family which we are building for now. They both have a connection to this family and have a passion to see the mother relieved of her daily toils in caring for her disabled child. Shirley also sympathizes for her as she has lost children this year. For Richard and Shirley, who have been involved in every home we have built, this is personal. So, in honouring their desire, because of their unending blessing and hospitality and hard work for us, we allowed them to proceed with building for this family.

The evidence of their passion was very visible when we first drove up to the project last Saturday. The rebar structures were all in place, the bricks laid for the walls, and the finishing cement was already smoothed and dried over the brick of the walls. The dirt inside the house had been leveled already and was ready to have cement laid onto it. These were all things which have never been done for us before but showed the urgency they felt to have the house done, especially because they started two weeks late due to delays with the original project. After talking with Shirley and Richard about its progress, it was clear to us, it was our fundraising and effort that financially allowed this house to happen, but it was Richard’s joy to be involved in every part of the construction of this house as his own offering of worship to bless this family.

So, as we approached the worksite this morning, full of energy to get out there and work, we had to deal with the changing plans and the realization that a lot of the work had been done for us. Apparently our own agendas were to come down and build a house, and we never really realized that that may not exactly play out as it had in our minds.

Our day started with figuring out the digging of the outhouse hole and adding fine dirt to the inside of the house so we could lay cement as well as constructing a rebar grate for the opening of the outhouse hole. We were excited to start these projects, but could see very quickly that we wouldn’t all have work to keep us busy all week. The team began to deal with the frustrations of the slower pace of the work. Of taking shifts, of waiting for the next batch of cement to be mixed, and of feeling a little bit more useless at times. It was humbling, to say the least, to feel like all that we wanted to come and do was being done for us. For some, it was easier to find ways to fill that time…Anthony befriended the two little girls who are going to be living in the house and played games with them in the dirt. There was also a group of kids there just waiting around for a chance to play with us and so we had the opportunity to spend some time just laughing and playing with them. But, for some, we were just wondering how we would last all week.

After lunch at Shirley’s, we came back to the work site and saw that there were two jobs in need of doing, mixing cement and bringing it into the house for the floor and digging the hole. Our team broke into two little teams and decided that they would just take turns. Braden and his team at the hole took turns chipping, shoveling, and pailing the dirt out of the hole into wheelbarrows. Denver & Marsh’s team at the front of the house were in charge of mixing cement, which takes quite a bit of time, and shoveling it into buckets for the workers to use inside of the house. There were down times, for sure, but all in all we worked out the afternoon.

We headed back to Shirley’s for supper wondering what MORE we could do. The team was already starting to debrief their frustrations and try to process our place in all of this. We enjoyed supper together, laughing and enjoying how dirty we had all gotten. One of Corwin’s connections in the village, a nineteen year old boy named Juan, came to visit. Juan has been a friend to many teams and teams have found ways to help support Juan’s dreams to go to school. Juan’s father died two years ago and Juan became the financial provider for his family. Since then, he has been working and going to school, striving to pursue his dreams of learning English and becoming a lawyer or a doctor. With only one look at Juan, his determination and the sheer strength in his smile, anyone could see that this dream was achievable for him. Juan sat with our team and practiced his English for hours as we enjoyed supper together. It was a blessing for both us and Juan to be able to share with each other about our lives and our dreams. Juan, in the past, has worked on the projects with us and told us that he would be willing to join in with us again this year, if we needed him.

As we met as a team tonight, we aired all that had been running through our minds for the day. We talked about our frustrations, feeling like we just didn’t have enough work to do. We talked about why we are feeling those frustrations, the expectations that we had that we obviously have to set down. Marshall brought up a fantastic point about how, before the trip, sometimes telling others that we get to go down to Nicaragua and build a house for a family was more about us than them…and now it really has to be about them. We also highlighted the fact that this was worship for Richard and his team. This was a way for them to be serving and loving that family. We, as a team, went through the steps of shedding all that was of ourselves and laying it humbly at the feet of Jesus. And then, we began to dream.

We acknowledged that, if the plans were not going to be going according to what we had expected, evidently God has other things in store, and we wanted to start dreaming of what those things could be. We realized that, with more team and more time, maybe we could serve in other ways. Dreams emerged…the idea of painting a mural in the little girls room in the house. The idea of going back to Evelyn’s house, the house we build last year, and building the structure of an outhouse overtop of the hole which we dug for her last year (because she has not been able to save enough money to build one yet). The idea of having Juan work with us and be the foreman at our second worksite at Evelyn’s and getting to pay him well for his work.

After a very vulnerable time of prayer together, our team left our meeting knowing that this may not be as we first thought it would be…we may not be able to say to the people at home who supported us “yes, we went down and build the house from the ground up”…but, we would be able to say that we were obedient to do as God asked us to and to be a part of something bigger than even we realized we could be.

The team meeting was proceeded by a meeting of Corwin, Kirk, and I. With these new ideas presented, we needed to check the financial ability we had to see them through. The kids were so pumped up about the things that they had dreamed, it would be a shame to have to thwart those desires because of money. We went over the budget together and started to feel a fear that all of these dreams may not be possible at all. Because of the connection and passion Richard has had for this project, his model for the house was one that was a little more superior to houses we have built in the past. He wanted to give his best, but his best seemed to be more than our budget had accounted for, spending over what we had allotted for construction fees. Also, because of the terrible inflation of the US dollar, which they use here in coincidence with the Nicaraguan corboda, we are also losing on what we had projected as our budget. All in all, we realized that money was going to be tighter than expected. We spent hours reworking the budget, having difficulty in knowing what our bills were going to be and if we would be over or short in certain areas (no one ever really quotes you what you actually pay…you only find out when you pay it). Finally, at the end of all of our attempting to number crunch, we just decided that all of these dreams were worth stepping out in faith and going ahead with. Why would God give us dreams to serve and then not give us the avenue to fulfil them?

God is teaching us more than we had anticipated. We knew He would stretch us. We knew He would ask us to use Spanish and to hold the hands of little kids we didn’t know and to connect with people and love them with our whole heart, even though we may never seem them again. We knew He would ask us to do things we would never do before. But we didn’t expect that He would ask us to step back from what we thought we would be doing so we could allow other people to go forward and serve in a way that blessed them. We didn’t expect that we would have to change our plans. But we are glad He’s asking it of it us.

Thank you so much for your prayers, there is in no way any doubt in our minds that we are adjusting to our circumstances on our own. It is because of the prayers of those who love us that we know that we are part of something bigger. And thank you for reading…for sharing in this with us. Please, know that we feel you here with us.

In closing, I would ask you, very vulnerably and candidly, to consider prayerfully joining into additional financial support of our mission. To complete these projects…to have the girls paint a mural and have the boys build the outhouse at our last year’s project sight with Juan…we will need extra funding. We feel that God has given all of us passions to serve with and we feel that, in faith, God will use those passions to touch the lives of people here.

Please, if you will, pray about the possibility of coming along side of us partnering in these new additional projects. If you feel that you are called to be a part of that contribution, You can donate safely and easily online by visiting CANADA HELPS ONLINE DONATIONS. Simply designate your donation to Project Serve Nicaragua, and mention 'construction' in the message area. You will immediately receive a receipt for tax purposes.

Thank you for walking along side us through this all. May God bless you deeply as He has us here today.

-The PS Nicaragua Family